Personal computer

The man who wants to put 'a dent in the universe'

Steve Wozniak, 'Woz' (Sunnyvale, August 11, 1950)
Steve Jobs (San Francisco, February 24, 1955)

Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, the two founders of the Apple computer company, were born, grew up, went to school and worked in cities and towns such as San Jose, Mountain View, Los Altos, Cupertino and Santa Clara.

They all belong to the area that would only receive the honorary title of Silicon Valley after their birth, in 1971. They were most certainly in the right place at the right time.

Steve Wozniak was from Sunnyvale and was attending the University of California at Berkeley in 1971 when his mother sent him an article from Enquire magazine.

His father was an electronics engineer with the aircraft manufacturer Lockheed and she stimulated her son's interest in electronics.

The article was about smart guys who developed blue boxes that allowed them to make free calls all over the world. "Woz" was only halfway through the article when he excitedly called his friend Steve Jobs, five years his junior, who was still in high school in a suburb of San Jose.

They immediately set to work making such a box themselves. The material cost $40 and took Wozniak about an hour to put together. They had a great time and called a weatherman in Australia or the Vatican reception.

They could even forward a connection from exchange to exchange and call themselves after their phone went around the world.

Sixteen-year-old Jobs immediately had an idea: he bought the equipment, Wozniak did the work, together they sold the things and together they shared the income. They sold their boxes door-to-door to male students on campus for $150.

It ran like a train. That was their first project.

Jobs went to India with a friend after one semester of college to seek spiritual enlightenment from a guru. He came back as a Buddhist, with his head shaved and in Indian clothing. His experiments with psychedelics, with LSD, also date from that time.

Jobs: "Those experiments are one of the two or three most important things I've done in my life." And: 'People who don't share my background in that area will never fully understand me.' Jobs was indeed shaped by the Counterculture, the protest movement that flourished especially in California in the 1960s.

He was the son of a Syrian father and an American mother, both students and unmarried at birth. Immediately after birth, they gave the child up for adoption to the Jobs couple, who gave him his first names Steven Paul.

Jobs would not find out who his real parents were until the 1980s with the help of a detective agency.

In 1968, when he was thirteen, the Jobs family moved from Mountain View to Los Altos simply because their son was not getting along with the kids at his school and because, in his own words, he "couldn't learn anything."

But even later he turned out to be 'different' to his fellow students and teachers.

He already showed an interest in electronics in primary education.

Father Jobs, a mechanic at a laser factory, was "a genius with his hands," according to his son, "he bought old cars, fixed them up and sold them again." Little Steve also had an engineer as a neighbor who answered all his questions.

In high school he constructed all kinds of electrical stuff. In a garage – garages in California were always studios in those years – he met and admired Wozniak, five years his senior, from a mutual friend.

One day he wrote a letter directly to William Hewlett, co-founder of Hewlett-Packard, to obtain rare parts. And Hewlett gave Jobs a summer job at his factory that summer.

After returning from India, Jobs found work at the video game manufacturer Atari, led by the flamboyant Nolan Bushnell. After a bout of dysentery in India, he had become a supporter of the German raw food guru and 'hunger artist' Arnold Ehret.

To this day, Jobs is a vegetarian and a follower of Zen Buddhism.

Joke phone

As a child, "Woz" could fiddle with electrical equipment so concentrated that he couldn't hear when someone called or spoke to him. His mother would pat him very hard on the skull, as if he needed to be awakened from a deep sleep.

He got the best grades in high school and was quiet and withdrawn, but brilliant—the type who would later be nicknamed "computer nerd."

As a teenager, he and a friend had constructed a kind of primitive computer that could multiply simple numbers. His mother was so proud of it that she called the newspaper to come and have a look. When 'Woz' wanted to demonstrate the thing to the reporter, it caught fire.

In 1972, Wozniak dropped out of college to become a computer engineer. He looked for work and found a job at Hewlett-Packard.

And he earned a little extra with a joke phone specialized in Polish (his own origin) and Italian jokes. He achieved an average turnover of two thousand telephones per day. Both Wozniak and Jobs lived back with their parents in those days.

Wozniak joined the Homebrew (Homebrew) Computer Club in March 1975, an informal group of about 30 hobbyists, engineers, programmers, and technicians who met every two weeks to see if they couldn't build a small computer.

At that time, the word computer still referred to a machine that took up half a room, which could only be found in government and banking institutions and which, by definition, was used by a large group of people.

It seemed as if these hobbyists wanted to build their own spaceship, according to one comment. More than twenty small and large computer companies would emerge from that club.

The microprocessor, invented by Ted Hoff in 1971, the 'brain' of the computer, became smaller, cheaper and more powerful. The members of the club exchanged ideas and experiences and sold parts to each other.

They also thought about what you could do with a mini computer: check burglar alarms, or the garden sprinkler and central heating; you could make music with it, edit texts, play games and put robots to work.

Wozniak: 'Everyone in the club in those years 1975-1976 knew that a major computer revolution was coming and also knew that the rest of the world was not aware of it.' There was great excitement when, in January 1975, Popular Electronics magazine offered the Altair 8800, the first computer kit for hobbyists, for $375.

The disappointment was just as great when it turned out that the buyer still had to solder and program himself and had to buy a lot of stuff, for example a memory disk and a screen, which pushed the price up to 3000 dollars. A huge amount.

That high price is the origin of Apple. Neither Wozniak nor Jobs could afford such a large sum. 'Woz' designed his own microcomputer with parts that he and 'Steve' would throw together and take to work.

A not uncommon practice in the bustling computer industry. The management of Atari had to intervene at a certain point because material worth $ 800 disappeared from the workshops every day.

Wozniak: 'I knew Steve from my younger years. We had two things in common: interest in electronics and playing pranks. The schedules of my design were not secret, everyone in the club could see them.

I even went to people's homes to help them work out my design. I wanted to do that for free all my life. I didn't want to lose my job at Hewlett-Packard. Steve raved about his boss Nolan Bushnell, he was his hero.

He wanted us to make money together like we had with the blue boxes. It was he who suggested the name Apple Computer.

He remembered the day he picked apples in the orchards of an Oregon commune.' Woz made printed boards and Jobs tried to sell them to members of the club. That went very slowly. On April 1, 1976, they established their partnership.

One of the club members owned three small shops for computer hobbyists. He was interested. But he didn't just want printed boards, no, complete computers. Fifty pieces.

They sought suppliers from whom, thanks to Jobs' "silver tongue," they were granted a thirty-day deferral of payment, which was very unusual, and with the support of Job's family members, constructed family members—father emptied the garage, sister did a job for a dollar an hour. hour – fifty microcomputers at a rapid pace.

The price they came up with was $666.66, which was very similar to Wozniak's joke phone number: 6666.

The shopkeeper was not impressed: the two Steves had not thought of housing. He nevertheless paid and had wooden cabinets made himself. They looked horribly ugly. Steve Jobs was in all states. And Woz was irritated because most club members turned up their noses at the Apple I.

With the Apple II, he wanted to 'blow the socks off' this arrogant couple.

He built a microcomputer with half the chips, faster, color on the screen, built-in the programming language BASIC, on which you could play an Atari video game, with no less than eight inputs to expand.

The device weighed no more than six kilograms and was held together with ten screws.

Looking back today, it should come as no surprise that Steve Jobs, the aesthetic guardian of the iMac, iPod, and iPhone, also emerged with an elegant plastic case that outshines all existing metal containers.

Against will and thanks

There was no interest in their prototype at their respective companies. Jobs was simply laughed at by his boss Bushnell. In the fall of 1976, Jobs realized that they also needed to start their own financial firm. The market grew too fast. Although Woz definitely didn't feel like it.

The manipulative Jobs called all of Wozniak's family and friends to pressure him.

Thus, Woz unwillingly became an electronic "superstar" and was honored and decorated throughout his life by engineering organizations and inventor clubs for that little miracle that was Apple II. It is he who has the worldwide respect of computer engineers and programmers.

When Apple made him rich, Woz gave $50 million in stock to his ex-wife and a bunch more stock to her family, relatives, and friends. "I'm not that competitive," he said, "I still have my own life." In recent interviews, he is reminiscent of an aging rock singer who can only talk about his golden years.

It was completely different with Steven Paul Jobs. He built a multinational company around Woz's box and grew into a cult figure, a demigod to the computer consumer. Wozniak wanted to make computers. Jobs wanted to "put a dent in the universe."

And that still takes up all of his time today. "Edison is more important to humanity than Marx," is one of his statements.

And he also strongly supports Henry Ford's statement: 'If I had asked my customers what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.' So Jobs doesn't ask consumers what they want. He'll figure it out himself.

At the end of 1980, more than three years after the foundation of Apple Inc., the company went public. After three weeks, the shares were valued at $1.79 billion, more than the value of Ford Motor Company.

At 23, Jobs was worth $1 million; $10 million at age 24; 100 million at 25.

Speaking to Stanford students in 2005, shortly after undergoing cancer surgery, he said, “The realization that I may soon die is the single most important tool I know of to help me make important life choices.

Knowing you will die is the best way to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There's no reason not to follow your heart.'

(See also: video game)


Apple is an intriguing name for a computer company. Jobs dropped the name to Wozniak very early in early 1976. Woz preferred a technical word like Intel or Matrix, as was fashionable in Silicon Valley after the use of surnames.

Officially, Jobs loved apples, was crazy about them. Jobs: "I was a fruitarian then, I only ate fruit." One summer he had been working as an apple picker in an orchard in Oregon. According to many sources in a commune.

According to the Wall Street Journal in a commune of the Hare Krishna.

Computer historians also see it as a tribute to Alan Turing, the man who first wrote down the theory of the computer, and ended his life by biting an apple that had been smeared with cyanide.

The bite is also a reference to "byte," the smallest addressable portion of a computer memory. It is also often said that Jobs was an admirer of the Beatles with their Apple record label.

The two founders also liked the fact that Apple was first in alphabetical lists, or in the phone book, before Atari.

Frenchman Jean-Louis Gassée, Apple's senior vice president until 1989, says of the logo in John Sculley's Odyssey from Pepsi to Apple: “One of the deepest mysteries to me is the logo.

The symbol of desire and knowledge, overlaid with the colors of the rainbow in the wrong order. You can't imagine a more suitable logo: desire, knowledge, hope and anarchy.' The original logo, by the way, was an image of the physicist Newton, sitting under an apple tree.

It was Jef Raskin, the designer of the Apple Macintosh, who came up with the name Macintosh, which is the name of his favorite California apple variety.